TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Southern Arizona Hoarding Task Force has launched a facilitated self-help support group for people with Hoarding Disorder, or hoarding tendencies.
The 20-week program aims at helping people manage their hoarding behavior, learn skills to reduce their clutter, and most importantly, to learn they are not alone.
Dozens of community members showed up to learn more about the program called "Buried in Treasures." Some of the were self-proclaimed hoarders, others there to support family members who needed help.
Jennifer Hagen, a case coordinator with the Pima Council on Aging said they responded to many cases of hoarding in the county.
"We see clients who have the traditional boxes to ceiling stacks, and just a pathway through their homes. One case, I walked in and it was just a pathway from her bathroom to her bed. You couldn't get anywhere. The only place she had was her bed that was clear, and even part of that was blocked off," said Hagen.
Many people at the meeting said they were embarrassed about their hoarding tendencies.
One lady in her sixties who asked us not to show her face said she found it hard to get rid of books.
"I'm emotionally attached to a few things that have no purpose in my life. They were gifts from my family members and they've passed away now," said the woman.
Another woman who did not want to be identified said she inherited a lot of things when her mother died, and found it hard to get rid of the stuff.
"I need to be able to just cut loose, as my friend says thin the herd with my possessions," said the woman.
She admitted it was easier said than done.
Susan Rubin, a former English teacher also signed up for the program. She said her hoarding tendencies grew after her mother's death about three years ago.
"I've been trying to deny that I have any collecting or hoarding problem, it's getting to the point where it's hard to ignore. I have to clean up for the cleaning lady to come in, I couldn't possibly let her see it as it is," said Rubin.
Despite her embarrassment, Rubin let our cameras into her home. She said her problem was clothes, books, and food.
"I think it's because I was raised really, really poor. I look at an item and even if I'm not using it, I go oh but it costs money, it's a valuable item," said Rubin.
Members of the task force said hoarding was a psychological and mental issue in many cases.
The 20-week program costs ten dollars, but there is financial aid available for those who cannot afford it.
The group meets every Tuesday evening from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Abrams Public Health Center, Room 1104. Weekly attendance was encouraged, but officials said participants could attend as many meetings at possible, and newcomers could sign up at any point during the program.